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Export of industrial equipment and related items to Europe (primarily Spain). Business interests, in Spain.
Favorite directors: Altman, Allen, Amod�var. Actors: 1. Douglas, 1a. Redford, 3. Nicholson. Actresses: 1. Scott-Thomas; rest tied: Carrere, Heche, Stone.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Don't know how many will ever see the 2,086th comment in this site - but just saw a friend's DVD of this film, again. I had missed it due to being in Europe on an extended business trip when it played first-run, and caught some portions of it a few years later, and then completely sometime following.
This was the third or fourth time I'd seen it straight through, and it is one of those very rare films which is as good - maybe even better - on successive viewings.
Robbins, Freeman, Gunton, and all of the remaining cast - whether in larger supporting roles or smaller - are outstanding, without a single exception.
My friend is a computer whiz, with an IQ of probably 150, and widely-expert expert in this area. But he's so immersed in this realm, that whenever forced to use pen and paper (instead of mouse or keyboard) he does so on about the 5th-grade level. After the film (he had bought the DVD, but had never seen it before) he stated he didn't feel the Robbins character could have pulled-off all the shenanigans with the money, from prison via mail (and perhaps sometimes using a messenger of the warden's) the way the film depicted -- whereas today, if such an inmate had a computer terminal available, it would be more possible.
I told him I felt certain the opposite was true. In the era of the story, a very intelligent financially-adept individual - especially a former whiz-kid bank V.P. - could have done what was shown even more effectively and successfully than via computer today, with all the firewalls, and in-house computer nerds any bank has. Someone with both tremendous financial and hacker ability might - but not as easily as Tim did, during a period when signatures and figures on paper and the like were the governing elements.
This aspect is one of the most critical and climactic for the story and its very satisfying ending. And Gunton, a tremendous actor who has done many sympathetic characters, presents one of the best performances portraying a truly evil person - more so for the quieter and "nasty-nice" elements of this portrayal. He juxtaposes quiet demeanor, often even pious, with completely selfish, vicious, amoral actions, as well as humanly possible, with his performance in this role
This is a film for which the term "perfect piece of entertainment" does not exaggerate.
The Game (1997)
Like many of the prior comments here, I found this film engrossing and interesting, in terms of its presenting more intelligent fare than most of the offerings today, on large screen or small. Having recently seen it again, it is also a flick which is one of those as interesting on subsequent viewings as the first.
And aside from the excellent cast and performances, and with Michael Douglas, my personal favorite actor -- it managed to combine several genres at once, all of them better-presented than in films where only one would be involved.
Science fiction has always presented unexplainable and impossible features compared with "real life." Heck, 70 years ago, Buster Crabbe as "Buck Rogers," along with his cohorts, was flying throughout the universe in a craft, large and well-equipped and -furnished, much like Kirk and Spock and the "Star Wars" denizens, everyone walking around freely as if they were in a fancy hotel suite. Yet even today, the ships and space stations remain cramped and less-than commodious.
Along with "science fiction'" (and containing many occurrences patently impossible, but somehow credible), this film also has characteristic of the horror genre, "Poltergeist-"type occurrences; also the good old-fashion "noir" flick of the 40's and 50's (the reason why Brian Donlevey died with a healthy estate). It also has pure mystery elements, along with those of sophisticated drama, the "main character (however powerful and rich)" reordering his priorities and finding what's really important in life. It also provided some "road film" scenes, and plenty of danger for the lead character.
There probably are a few other categories, but these are sufficient to describe this outstanding picture, well-crafted, interesting, and one of those few capable of holding your interest throughout.
Each Saturday at 8 p.m., and then again on Sunday at 6, our local PBS station has an hour-long presentation of this kind - classic performances by prominent entertainers, mostly musical.
Saw the first ten minutes of this program yesterday before having to leave, but made certain I caught it today.
This is a perfect piece of entertainment, seeing this iconic entertainer, about to turn 50 (aired in Nov., a month before his 50th birthday).
It's simple, him alone on-stage, with his two "primo" conductors/arrangers, Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins, conducting.
Although he had a cold, and completed over two evenings, you'd never know it. This is perhaps the best presentation - ever - to view this great performer, all the more so for its pure simplicity of production.
Also has more than normal nostalgic effect, this being the period of the "Rat Pack," a few years following "Ocean's Eleven," two years following JFK's assassination, and in the heart of the eventful 60's, reminiscent of the many events which had occurred then, and would ensue in the decade's balance.
Wife Swap (2004)
Freakish extremes abound
Some of these presentations are amusing; however, in my estimation, they don't possess the instructive value which the producers/directors seem to feel they portray.
For example, I saw two episodes today. The first had a beauty queen/late-sleeping princess type, whose husband did everything for her, swapping places with a gal obviously not into great concern over appearances (either hers or her home's), with a street performer husband with some sort of metal clips permanently installed in his forehead, permanent red striping on his face, and more tattoos than the typical NBA basket-baller.
As to grooming, the family of the former apparently spent more time applying cologne (even to the kids) after showering, than the latter group might be spending on an entire week's total grooming.
The second had the mom from a family of religious fanatics, and a son wearing a "Promise ring," swapping households with a gal in a self-styled "ultra liberal" family with a son and daughter, each proclaiming himself/herself, respectively, a "stud" and "wild child."
The problem with this show, particularly episodes like BOTH of these, is that I found no empathy for either family in both episodes. In both story lines, I wouldn't care to emulate any of their particular lifestyles,. Neither would I want to spend ANY time in any of these households.
A good way to view most of the folks in this series is to be thankful we don't live in a society dominated by any of these almost freakishly extreme families.
(4* because of the level of fascination provided. This is especially true in viewing how almost every one of the women, as well as their husbands, profess to have virtually every answer and piece of advice necessary to alter their counterparts' lives and families.)
Mother Knows Best (1997)
Delightfully wicked parent/in-law
A friend had seen this flick a while back and recommended it, and I happened to see it listed for a rerun on "Lifetime" today.
Glanced at the prior comments here, and after viewing this opus, would agree with their positive viewpoints.
Joanna Kerns' evil mom was as delightfully and completely selfish, obsessive and wicked a character as one is likely to encounter. "Mother-in-law-from-Hell" is almost too mild an adjective. Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," and Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets" could qualify to become trainees as mental health workers, comparing their problems relative to Joanna's personality disorders.
Sonny Corleone would exert more deliberation and examination of possible alternatives, before ordering somebody whacked, than this overbearing mother did in engaging a hit man.
However, overall, this was a relatively "quiet" flick, given the nature of the story and plot. I found this appealing, and there was little yelling, and no raucous knife-wielding climax, common to so many "Lifetime" offerings. This made it a better viewing, and the Kerns' character was all the better for her steady, unfailing, almost low-key way by which she portrayed her evil character's persona.
A worthwhile two hours' entertainment.
'Til Lies Do Us Part (2007)
Let's get locales back to American soil
Given the economic problems the nation has been experiencing, I think I can offer a suggestion to take a good step towards helping with this situation. Some high official (perhaps the Chairman of the Economic Advisors, or even the President, himself) should contact the CEO of the "Lifetime" network, to encourage them to make their made-for-TV fare in the U.S. For example, this flick, set in Philadelphia, was actually filmed in Ottawa. The vast majority of the network's movies are filmed in Canada (occasionally they use Seattle either specifically or "gernerically"), in British Columbia, Toronto, even Manitoba, etc.). If they were all made in our country, just the lodging, per diem expenses, the fees for "extras" and to rent sites, etc., taken back from Canadian to American recipients, should assist measurably our nation's economic situation.
As to this film, specifically, it has three attractive leads, and a youngster who isn't annoying (something for which one is always thankful).
In addition to musing about the above expected Canadian locale, I also couldn't help but think of "Fatal Attraction" (previous comment also mentioned similarity to this offering) and Glen Close's character. She and Al Sapienza's private dick here would comprise the absolutely perfect pairing of major OCD types. Both attractive, clever, and obsessive in a wholly-vicious, psychopathic fashion, they could have beaten the hell out of one another to their hearts' content.
***Possible minor spoiler following (but shouldn't ruin if read in advance)***
You can pretty well tell where the climax is leading during the last 20 - 25 minutes -- and the married pair have contacted authorities -- but after discovering the tec's electronic duplicity, everything leads to their lolling in the bedroom, and then encountering the villain when they check to see why the water isn't working. They have to know the crazy bastard is still a menace to them, yet are just lallygagging and walking around in the dark as if nothing could be wrong.
Some of the "wacky neighbor," or "spouse with a dark past" films, both Lifetime staples, usually demand physical danger and some violence at the climax. However, at least occasionally, I'd like to see an ending with perhaps some courtroom prosecution of the perpetrator, and a bit of more cerebral explanation of his/her motivations and the like.
Still, this was a better-than-average presentations in this genre, with attractive, capable leads and performances, and well-filmed.
Road House (1989)
2* for flick, 2 more for Ben
Although not a particular fan of either Patrick Swayze (and his "from -A-to-B" acting range), or this film's genre, I saw it first run while staying near a small city with one theater and it was playing.
Many of the cretin-like "good ol' boys" among both the good guys and the miscreants were over-the-top to some extent, but not entirely.
However, in watching some of it again by happenstance today, one thing struck me again, which alone may make this flick worth viewing.
Ben Gazzara is an accomplished actor, and one who manages to accomplish something most actors - prominent or "B/C-List" or below can't: he is usually capable of giving a credible performance, while at the same time "chewing the scenery" like a horde of beavers - no mean feat. HOWEVER, I would rank his character and performance in this singular presentation as the MOST OUTRAGEOUS I've ever seen - and perhaps in the entire recorded history of entertainment on stage, screen, performance art, or even back to performances in ancient Roman and Greek presentations.
Even Bugsy Siegel when having a manic episode, Al Capone at his angriest, or Don Corleone's Luca Braci, would be pussycats compared with the obsessive, sociopathetic, vicious town-bully portrayed by him in this offering. Even Corbin Bernsen's psychotic dentist in those made-for-TV flicks, with all the drilling, extracting and probing without benefit of Novocaine - compared with Gazarra here, make the doc seem simply like man with a slightly different approach to oral hygiene.
This movie would rate about 2* for plot/story - but must be at least doubled for Ben's fascinatingly delightful and outrageous presence.
A Kidnapping in the Family (1996)
Total zero (a shame this system provides for minimum of 1*)
Seeing this film was purely by chance. I was working at home on the computer, and someone was watching it in the next room. I had taken a break for lunch a bit after it had started.
Some movies are mediocre, but you watch sometimes if you haven't anything better to do, or are just vegging-out for a couple of hours. Some are "so bad that they're good," and provide amusement instead of the type of appreciation which the maker may have intended.
Then there are those like this one, which occur not too frequently, but with regularity among this channel and genre.
Even while delivering a topic and subject matter which could be treated to evoke some feeling and meaning for viewers - this production, its characters, and perhaps most of all, the performances - present absolutely nothing of value.
There wasn't a single performance or character which was the least bit sympathetic, and all were vacuous and completely uninteresting in their own ways. Their performances were wooden, and I found it impossible to care about or like the characters meant to be liked and sympathetic; it was equally impossible to be interested sufficiently in the negative characters, or to dislike or care one iota about them either.
Grandmother/mother/father/sister/good guy-new husband - all were big zeroes in terms of what one hopes to find (even minimally) in a story.
Tick Tock (2000)
Worse ways to spend a couple of hours
This was a decent flick to watch at the beginning of a holiday weekend, just before getting ready to head-out. It was a "double-cross," followed by "double-cross," followed by "double-cross..." story, with flashbacks/re-playings of scenes, introduced by a backward-spinning clock face (with fancy Roman numerals, yet!!), sort of a "poor man's 'Roshomon'."
A lot of Lifetime movies have the psychotic, murderous neighbor or babysitter or student, etc., or a heroine dealing with a spouse with a secret pass, and/ or fleeing great danger. This story was a refreshing change in this regard. It had some holes, but was actually as good a mystery/thriller as some of the big-screen, mega-buck, "A"-list movies.
But it did, somewhat amusingly, have one quality which about 98 or 99% Lifetime presentations contain: the male characters were vacuous, clueless and possessed a level of intelligence far inferior to the ladies of the cast.
Anyway, the leads were attractive, and the two gals deliciously "bad," especially the one who was the prime author and leader of the devious undertakings.
I didn't recognize any of the thespians, except for John Ratzenberger, but apparently they have histories in some popular day- and night-time TV fare which weren't programs I ever watched.
All-in-all not the worst way to spend a couple of hours relaxing.
The two I've seen were interesting
I had never seen this show, and tune-in to CMT very seldom, except to watch "Trick My Truck," or the occasional movie they have listed in which I'm interested.
A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be tuning to another channel, when I hit CMT just as one of these episodes was getting underway. After intending to pause for only a moment, I became interested, and watched the entire episode, with complete interest.
I checked and found it had originally aired in September of 2004, and was the first to vary from the usual format, with the husbands changing locales instead of the wives. (The Cooke//Levine episode.)
Both men were completely likable - Justin Levine, a successful New York City lawyer, and of Jewish heritage, traveling to rural Georgia, with chicken coops and all. His counterpart, "Jay" Clark, a blue-collar factory worker went to the Levine's high-rise, terraced apartment, with superb view - the type you find listed in "New York" Magazine WELL into seven figures.
This was a pleasant program, with Justin actually shopping in the hardware store and doing a very credible job of constructing a gate for one of the animal enclosures, and taking the wife (who preferred the local diner) to a posh Atlanta restaurant for haute cuisine.
"Jay" Cooke, as thoroughly-pleasant a man as you're likely to encounter, was understandably fascinated by the New York City digs and overall scene, and it was honestly heartwarming to observe his bonding with son Pierce, preparing for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah; there could not be a better scenario for displaying the pleasant interacting of two cultures, both religious and social/lifestyle. He was also fascinated by the frenetic, hyper wife, Beverly, a quintessential big city career woman, social butterfly, nervous about her son's upcoming ceremony (and everything else) - but somehow, being also very pleasant at the same time - no mean feat!
This was the only program in this series I'd seen, until today, when I watched another, also produced sometime ago, originally airing January, 2005. (The Lambe-Levy//Farrell episode.)
Here, Marybeth Lambe travels from the family farm in rural Washington state, and her and Mark Levy's seven children, multi-racial, with four adopted. Her counterpart, Janet Farrell, travels from Carmel, New York and her four kids, ranging from earlier teens to tattooed/pierced son, Brian, 20.
Marybeth is quiet, nurturing, early-rising, enjoying an active schedule, and even a bit of "chaos." Janet, while amazingly being such while not being highly-"unpleasant," sleeps late, her husband, Dennis, doing most of the housework (despite multiple back surgeries), an has a somewhat deluded view in assessing the positive effects her presence, requests, ideas and instructions have on those around her. If they were grading same, in her host family surroundings, she'd give herself a solid "10", while Dennis and children would likely be around, say, "4" --MAX.
The most vivid aspect of this program was Marybeth's genuine, sincere interest in Brian's art and talent, and encouraging him to pursue whatever path would come, whether body or fine art.
It was clear from his comments - both during the program and after his mother's return home - that this woman had given him more in this vein in one week than his mother had in 20 years.
When his Mom was reading Marybeth's disbursement of the their $50,000 stipend for the show (in accord with each spouse directing how his/her host family's 50-grand is to be spent) he uttered something about probably "getting a break," since Marybeth had made the disbursement decision (instead of his Mom).
From some other comments and summaries of other offerings in this series, I'd say that, by chance, the two I've seen are probably among the most pleasant and interesting in a positive manner.
I'd give it 8* based upon what I've seen - 9* for my first, and 7* the other, averaged. I think this is simply one of those shows where, instead of being a fan of virtually everything presented, one needs to watch for a bit, and then continue or switch channels, accordingly, based upon that day's particular presentation.
Just saw a third episode, several days after the above two. Some difference. From original season, the totally obnoxious, yowling, morbidly-obese "Christian" nut from Louisiana, exchanging households with the attractive, quiet spoken lady from Massachusetts - a "New Age" astrologer and radio show love Guru, whose husband held a Solstice celebration for her almost psycho counterpart. However, for me, this program was wholly fascinating, and the "New Age/astrological" fanaticism almost as nonsensical as the shrieking "Christian" histrionics --albeit at opposite ends of the spectrum. Thank God most folks are sensible enough to be somewhere between.